Home > rant > Please don’t have any kids

Please don’t have any kids

June 21, 2012

I recently read this New York Times article about choosing to have kids, called “Think Before You Breed”.

It describes the pressure childless people have from breeders to have kids. I believe they feel that pressure, and I want to explain it a bit, from the point of view of a person with three kids.

First of all, if you feel pressure coming from me, it’s entirely unintentional. In fact, I consider having children a deeply irrational thing to do – any kind of cost/benefit analysis focusing on material costs and such would steer me very wide of the practice of sacrificing my health, my time, and enormous amounts of resources to these little economic leeches that likely won’t even talk to me after they leave for college, which I will be paying for if I can afford it.

And not only is having kids a stupid idea in terms of economics – it’s also a hugely dangerous proposition, because it’s so much easier to screw up your kids than it is to raise healthy, well-adjusted people. There are pitfalls in every direction, and when it comes to it I think there should be a 4-year college, with forced enrollment of people who are embarking on the parenting thing, before it happens. That nothing like this happens, that kids themselves can have kids without any planning or training, is actually crazy considering how much maturity is required to do a half-decent job of it.

The only defense I really have of bearing three children is that my instincts told me to do it, and they, my instincts, didn’t play fair. In fact until I turned 23 I didn’t want kids, and I had a completely rational view of how much of a pain they’d be, and how much they’d take over my life, etc.. But somehow when I turned 23, there was something deep in my gut that kicked in and made me start missing my as-yet-unborn kids, as if I’d forgotten to kiss them goodnight and they were whimpering upstairs in their rooms. I know, I know, it’s over the top, but there you have it, instincts take no prisoners.

In summation: I don’t want you to have kids unless you absolutely have to. It’s bad for the planet, it’s bad for you, and it’s likely bad for your kids. The only thing I’d be checking if I ask you whether you plan to have kids is whether you have caught the same disease I did when I turned 23 – it’s not a request! It’s a sanity check!

Now I don’t think I’m completely normal in my view. I do think that lots of people get so intoxicated with the breeding thing that they literally think other people are insane if they don’t want to join the club. That’s super annoying and I don’t think there’s much you can actually do about these people. If it helps, when I’m listening in on that conversation I’ll be happy to interject and suggest that nobody in their right mind would ever breed. But rational arguments such as lack of resources, time, and attention would probably not sway these people, because they are true believers and need to think that it’s the only reasonable thing to do. They are married to convention.

They are also usually convinced their kids will never hate them, never move across the country for college and refuse to write, so the argument that they’ll be lonely when they’re old also doesn’t seem to help – they will tell you that, as a non-breeder, it will be you who is lonely when you’re old.  It’s ironic, this line of argument, especially because you’re often talking to someone who hasn’t invested themselves in hobbies; they’re obsessed with the progress of their kids’ violin lessons and robotics teams but don’t have a true independent interest outside their children. Do they really think their kids will still let them into their lives 24 hours a day when they’re 25?

I firmly believe that, without kids, I could be establishing a far richer network of (probably childless) friends that will still be around to hang out with and talk politics when I get old. I’m still trying to do this now, by the way, but most nights I need to get home by 5:45 to make plain pasta and steamed broccoli, the only two things I’ve eaten in the past 12 years.

Look, everyone tries to convince themselves and people around them that the life choices they’ve made are the right ones. It’s uncomfortable to constantly feel like an idiot about this kind of thing, believe me. For myself, in spite of how irrational I have been, I can truly say I’ve managed to convince myself on a daily basis that I don’t mind the sacrifice because at least I get to hear my kids say insulting, sarcastic things that seem new to me (“ooh, I hadn’t heard that one! It’s goooood!”). It all makes it worth it. Plus I love them to bits, and they happen to be really cool people that might just contribute positively to the world whilst having a raucous amount of mischievous fun. At least that’s what I’ll imagine is happening when I’m old and lonely.

 

Categories: rant
  1. chitownmama
    June 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

    “And not only is having kids a stupid idea in terms of economics – it’s also a hugely dangerous proposition, because it’s so much easier to screw up your kids than it is to raise healthy, well-adjusted people. There are pitfalls in every direction, and when it comes to it I think there should be a 4-year college, with forced enrollment of people who are embarking on the parenting thing, before it happens.”

    Judith Rich Harris’s The Nurture Assumption (http://www.amazon.com/The-Nurture-Assumption-Children-Revised/dp/1439101655) is a great book about how relatively little blame (or credit) can be assigned to parents for how their kids turn out as adults (and how oodles of research in psychology purporting to show the opposite is fatally flawed.)

    Highly recommended reading for everyone fretting about the many mistakes that they are making as parents. The idea that parents are directly responsible for their children’s personalities and fates is actually a relatively new one in human history.

    But all your other arguments are right on. Having kids—totally irrational, but also totally amazing. If someone is in need of fully-convincing, logical reasons in order to have kids, then they probably just shouldn’t because there aren’t any these days!

    • June 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      To piggy back on this same idea, here’s another fascinating study

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303552104577436333754014866.html

      According to this the Minnesota Twins Study, it seems pretty hard to screw up your kids, at least in terms of things like IQ. Good topic for debate about what this actually means.

    • Alex SL
      June 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Weird way of seeing it. Pretty much by definition it is the parents’ fault how their children turn out. Some of it is nurture – and they have been raised by their parents. Some of it is nature – but they have their genes from their parents. End of story.

      • Jon
        June 22, 2012 at 10:22 am

        You plainly don’t have children – ‘nurture – and they have been raised by their parents’. Really? So all those studies showing that children are mainly influenced by their parents until the age of about 5, whereafter it’s peer group all the way, they’re just wrong, I suppose? And I suppose all those obese children are the fault of their parents, not the sensory mind-fuck created by the relentless advertising bombardment by food companies? You have such a simple-minded approach to life, you must be a neo-classical economist (that’s the worst insult I can think of…).

        • Alex SL
          June 23, 2012 at 12:14 am

          Yeah, because I obviously have zero influence on who the peer group of my daughter will be, and because those first five years have zero influence on who my daughter will find acceptable company, and because I have zero influence on how much advertising my daughter is exposed to. Riiiiight.

          Perhaps some of us just accept the responsibility that comes with the decision of having children, and others don’t? For good or worse, it is mostly my responsibility how she is and how she will be. The only help is that by the same logic it is mostly one’s parents’ responsibility how oneself has turned out, so part of the buck goes all the way to the Big Bang.

      • June 25, 2012 at 5:49 am

        From what I have researched, I would summarize it as such:
        - Parents have indeed a lot less influence then they think they do;
        - It has been proven that obsessing about children’s peer groups barely affects the kid in terms of what they turn out to be when they are adults
        - The education (both academic and parental) of the parents themselves are a lot more important (read: stupid and/or obnoxious people raise stupid and/or obnoxious people)
        - The care , health and behaviour of the mother during pregnancy is of vital importance

        Go ahead, do your own research.

  2. June 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Most of life’s important decisions are not based on “rationality” alone: choice of career, life partner, the decision to have children. To mention one quite different example, the decision to pursue a career in academia, my field, is irrational on many levels. The decision to pursue a career in art, in social work, in the military, etc., also seem irrational from a certain point of view (although obviously I am no expert). Just because these decisions are irrational, that does not mean we should turn away from those things that we love and that inspire us.

    • Mike Maltz
      June 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Re rationality, from Gigerenzer et al’s “Simple Heuristics that Make Us Smart”:

      One philosopher was struggling to decide whether to stay at Columbia University or to accept a job offer from a rival university. The other advised him: “Just maximize your
      expected utility—you always write about doing this.” Exasperated, the first philosopher responded: “Come on, this is serious.”

  3. June 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Evolution never intended us to rational – we aren’t supposed to maximize personal utilty functions. The reason we are here is because individuals believe things and do things that rational individuals might disagree with. This is the Selfish Gene and not the selfish individual. Someone who chooses to have kids without rational reason is acting simply a human being, not a robot.

    Of course, we have our own instincts – Mother Nature didn’t intend everyone to have kids. Mother Nature gives us all different instincts (for example sexual orientations) so it seems clearly wrong to judge someone for acting out their instincts, (or not acting out my instincts).

    However, I admit that I feel judgemental sometimes, but this is mostly “defensive judgement:” I often feel judged by electively childless people who give me a look like my children just took too long crossing Nassau Street, or are playing too noisily, disturbing their reverie or cell phone conversation in the park, or whatever. I get that look. That Hey Breeder you shouldn’t have had kids look. You should’ve saved money and bought a house and a nanny before having kids. I’m smarter than you and I’m more rational than you and I’m going to retire wealthier than you. Go back to the midwest and grow corn syrup for me. My only response is to say (to myself), I’m raising kids who will go on to live lives, maybe not visit me everyday, but will have the opportunity to live. People like me who have kids are the only reason there is money in the economy for others to gloat about. I’m giving what my parents gave to me, and I’m enjoying it. Everyone who is scorning me has a mom who was human enough to have children. Those who don’t are perhaps more rational,but I have plenty of moral ground to stand on.

    New Yorkers probably couldn’t imagine what would happen if everyone in the rest of America (including Mexico) tried to make “rational” decisions about children. Our economy would collapse. The childless often seize upon Malthusian myths or projections of egotism to hold up their own decision, but this seems to me to be a celebration of their own detachment from their humanity.

    If you want to say “I have no desire to have kids,” that’s fine. I won’t judge you for that, any more than I would judge you for eating asparagus or not liking pizza or whatever you feel compelled towards.

    But when you give me that look like this is a “decision” which comes from your superiority as a person, that you made the right one and I made the wrong one, I’m going to get defensive and say “sorry buddy, you got evolution all backwards.”

    • Stallworth
      June 23, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      “Someone who chooses to have kids without rational reason is acting simply a human being, not a robot”

      Human being seems to be a chemical robot programmed by the DNA. Also, we have gone from 2 billion to 7 billion in 70 years. As of now: western economies are consuming 20 acres/capita per year of productive ecosystem. There are 4 acres/capita for the globe.
      Also, less people mean higher wages.

  4. Aaron
    June 21, 2012 at 11:31 am

    For the record, my recollection is that you wanted to have kids at least since you were 14.

  5. Matt
    June 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Kids are great! They are so much fun! They are the only friends who will be completely honest with you (at a young age). Their full-time job, when young, is to manipulate you to do what they want. In observing how they achieve this, you will learn surprising things about yourself. It is fascinating to be reminded what is and isn’t obvious about the world at various stages of learning about it. To a small child, you are full of supernatural powers of strength, magic, and knowledge on every topic. This will lead you to realize how much of your own knowledge (and common sense) has been handed to you and does not in fact come from your own experience or judgement. Your own children will also have an uncanny knack for thinking like you do, which can be refreshing in a world of people that don’t. It will hugely impact your view on nature vs. nurture (especially if you have more than one child). It will make you realize that adults are just overgrown kids. You will learn a lot about a traditionally large part of the human experience.

    I wouldn’t pressure anyone to have kids that doesn’t want to. If you don’t want to, that is probably a sign you shouldn’t ignore. I simply say for myself that for me it is great.

    Many East European countries (also Germany, Japan) have negative population growth, and a surplus of food, so I’m not fully convinced of the “bad for the planet” argument — but that’s a topic that people get religious about, so perhaps it’s best avoided — except that my own kids definitely make the planet a much better place!

    I think the schedule is roughly:
    age 0-6: you are god
    age 6-12: you are an imperfect mortal, but still influential
    age 12-18: best to abandon any illusions of control

  6. Dan L
    June 21, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I would never pressure anyone to have kids, but I would recommend it, because it is just an amazing life experience. It is a natural human impulse to fill our lives with rich and meaningful life experiences and feelings, and having kids is sort of an easy way to do this. It’s like going on a grand adventure. Some people can lead extraordinary lives filled with varied chapters or major contributions to society, but most of us don’t or can’t. If I were childless for the next 30 years, I guess I’d eat a lot more expensive dinners and take nice vacations, but it would be awfully repetitive. Since kids grow up, parent life is always changing.

    Obviously, I agree that someone who doesn’t want kids shouldn’t have them. I just don’t think having kids is *totally* irrational. I think it can be both instinctive and justifiable.

  7. June 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Love your sense of humor.

  8. chitownmama
    June 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    @ hacimnerraw “Evolution never intended us to rational – we aren’t supposed to maximize personal utilty functions. The reason we are here is because individuals believe things and do things that rational individuals might disagree with. This is the Selfish Gene and not the selfish individual. Someone who chooses to have kids without rational reason is acting simply a human being, not a robot.[...]Mother Nature gives us all different instincts (for example sexual orientations) so it seems clearly wrong to judge someone for acting out their instincts, (or not acting out my instincts). However, I admit that I feel judgemental sometimes, but this is mostly “defensive judgement:” I often feel judged by electively childless people who give me a look like my children just took too long crossing Nassau Street, or are playing too noisily, disturbing their reverie or cell phone conversation in the park, or whatever. I get that look. That Hey Breeder you shouldn’t have had kids look. You should’ve saved money and bought a house and a nanny before having kids. I’m smarter than you and I’m more rational than you and I’m going to retire wealthier than you.”

    Definitely. Parenting should just be treated as a normal part of the human condition for the majority of humans (or all if you are considering the childhood part of it), and as such, society should collectively make reasonable provisions for coping with it (whether for parents or children). But in the 21st century US, parenting is instead a Rational Life Decision and should only be taken on if and when you have $300K saved up to deal with it. Anyone who does otherwise knew what they were getting into and should be soundly blamed for anything that goes wrong. The comments section of any article on children on nytimes.com (ok probably any online newspaper) instantly substantiates this as a common worldview. (e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/health/rise-in-preschool-cavities-prompts-anesthesia-use.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all#commentsContainer) Ugh. That’s what passes for “family values” in our society—condemning others for not valuing their families enough.

    There was a great post a while back on Balloon Juice about this (http://www.balloon-juice.com/2009/05/29/hobby-farming-our-children/): “The way American public policy runs these days, kids are basically treated as very high-maintenance pets. Raising them is considered a hobby, like breeding fancy chickens or keeping horses. Parenting is just another special interest group, with its own patois and skill-sets and warring factions. And while the Parenting Community is fascinated with every tiny detail of its fandom… everybody’s personal domestic livestock is special & deserves nothing less than the best of everything!—no sensible American wants to pay taxes for the upkeep of other peoples’ hobby children. [...] If people insist on breeding children, they should be prepared to deal with the ensuing problems on their own. It’s not as though the general population had an ongoing interest in the welfare of other peoples’ hobby-farmed offspring! Especially all those horrible pet-shop-quality children, whose careless breeders spawn on an impulse—who are they to expect the rest of us to support their expensive hobby? Not to mention the kids themselves…”

  9. albrt
    June 22, 2012 at 2:32 am

    >The way American public policy runs these days, kids are basically treated as very high-maintenance pets… And while the Parenting Community is fascinated with every tiny detail of its fandom… everybody’s personal domestic livestock is special & deserves nothing less than the best of everything!—no sensible American wants to pay taxes for the upkeep of other peoples’ hobby children.

    OMG this describes how I feel exactly!

    Ha ha, just kidding.

    http://www.topatoco.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=TO&Product_Code=BEAT-BABIES&Category_Code=021

  10. Ina Pickle
    June 22, 2012 at 3:59 am

    Having kids is completely economically destabilizing – you hit it right on the head. It is also completely consuming for, oh, 20 years or so. I rush home from the one full-time job so that I can work on the second one. I also would never in a thousand years pressure anyone to have kids; on the contrary, I think entirely too little thought goes into it for the vast majority of the population, like you do. And there is absolutely no way on this earth to anticipate how it will be and how you will feel, which is why that whole “well, you had the kids, it’s your fault – you should have known” trope feels so incredibly stupid (defensive? obnoxious?). That’s before we talk about what a massive, freaky miracle it is that ANYONE is born completely normal. Once you have crossed the line of serious problems with a child, you truly marvel at why it’s as rare as it is. But no one seems to think that this particular lightning bolt will strike them. Truly, the optimism of the lizard part of the brain is amazing.

    Humor is your only real weapon in life. You have to keep your sense of humor about you, or it’s all over but the crying. I figure that, no matter what I do, there will be some way that I failed the kids. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m sure they’ll tell me someday. So now, when I make mistakes, I sometimes say “well, that’s low hanging fruit” for their eventual therapy. I tell myself that, thanks to that low hanging fruit, they will be able to feel like they made progress quickly in therapy and will be able to save loads of money while the kids of wealthy, over-indulgent parents flounder around trying to figure out what went wrong. I’ve learned to embrace the messy, ad hoc, imperfection of it.

    Maybe it’s the fact that we’re not normal, but I do my darnedest not to give a rat’s butt what other people think. I must admit that I’ve never considered myself a spokesperson for parenting, or any kind of advertisement other than some kind of after-school PSA about the dangers of breeding. God, I love those kids. And what’s odd is, despite all of the massive work and issues and the fact that I’m sure most of the PTA considers us “those people,” I think we’re doing great. There’s a lot of life that forces you to mold to it, rather than vice versa. And man, have I learned to bend in the wind.

    • June 22, 2012 at 5:48 am

      Babe,

      I want a playdate with you. We let the kids run around while we drink on the couch, what do you say?

      Cathy

      • Ina Pickle
        June 22, 2012 at 11:07 am

        It would be a great honor! But we’re guaranteed to wind up with wine coming out of our nose at some point – because I think you are very funny.

      • Ebean
        June 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm

        I want a playdate with you InaPickle and I don’t even have kids! :) I have two rabbits that can entertain your kids though.

  11. June 22, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Sometimes not having kids is no more of a rational decision than having them. Aside from being generally pessimistic about the near-term future of humanity and mostly misanthropic, I don’t think I would make a very good parent. I’ve never felt any strong desire to have kids, and I don’t generally enjoy being around other people’s kids. You may think your kids are amazing, but this is not a universally held opinion. And yes, having kids doesn’t mean you won’t be lonely when you’re old, just ask my mother. The thing is, there is no argument. You have kids, or you don’t. That’s it. There’s no point at all in trying to convince someone who made a different choice or ended up in different circumstances that they should have made a different one. There are no universal answers in life. We’re all just muddling through as best we can.

  12. Yulek
    June 22, 2012 at 10:36 am

    If you do not have children, then what are you here for?
    Along for the ride? When you die, you leave nothing behind, no matter what kind of miraculous inventions or discoveries you have made available to the rest of our dumb species.

    We are born to breed, that is what life does. Nature does not give you an option to live eternally, you grow up, have children and then you die, your children carry on. Or you have no children and when you die, there is no one to carry on.

    • Ebean
      June 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      Carry on what? What if you’re an awful parent? The world is full of those. What “legacy” do they leave behind? This argument assumes that the parent will be effective and leave a positive “legacy”. I think that’s a very strong assumption. I don’t want kids but I still think I have a right to walk the earth. As for eternal life, I think history’s great artists, writers, and thinkers (for lack of a better world) have definitely achieved eternal life. Most of us mere mortals won’t leave a mark on this world of 7B people and growing – even if we have 10 kids.

      • Yulek
        June 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

        I don’t think I will be an awful parent, but since I am not yet ready I still try to mature myself, or rather solve a problem of mine, that I think disqualifies me as a parent (since I would only repeat a mistake of my parents) at this time. As for my legacy, it will be up to my children to choose which part of it to carry on, and which to discard as no longer useful. After all our offspring are not our clones.

        I do not deny your right to walk the earth, actually I am quite happy with people not having children. My offspring will have less competition to worry about.

        • Ebean
          June 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm

          For the record Yulek, the “you” in my reply was a general “you” not a specific you. I’d never presume to tell a random internet person that s/he won’t be a good parent. Your offspring won’t face any competition from mine – promise.

      • Jon Cloke
        June 25, 2012 at 7:04 am

        I see myself as being here to exercise choice, which is also what we do as humans and what we have fought over for countless millennia. I choose not to believe that when I die I will have left nothing behind; I work for organizations I believe in that fight to change the lives of billions of less fortunate people than I am and if they and other organizations like them are successful, then we will indeed have changed something for those billions, and for the better – we just won’t get a medal for it, or lots of money, which is again something I choose. I am not a simple mechanism for transmitting my genes, whatever you and Richard Dawkins believe, and the argument that people are just animals, breeding and being selfish, is most frequently heard in conservative, neoliberal circles by people who should know better trying to justify their own behaviour. If the history of humanity shows anything, it shows the constant struggles between those who understand that humanity can transcend its animal nature, and those who pretend it can’t, mainly because they’re at the top of the pile and they want theirs. I am by no means perfect; I’ve been a sight too fond of booze and the company of women in my time, but when it comes to selfish possessiveness that harms other people, I choose not to behave in this way and I understand that humanity can transcend evolution or be doomed by it – but either way, it will be through choice.

  13. MCC
    June 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Some people will see this plea, and act on it. Most won’t. The sort of person who would act on this advice will be weeded out of the human genome. Evolution in action.

    This is why pleas for self-control are doomed, and as a rational individual, you should be able to recognize this. The inevitable outcome is a culling event (war/famine/plague) or a world wide dictatorship which can impose the necessary population reduction by force. Rational individuals should be having children and making plans to protect themselves and their children from the purges to come.

    You all know I’m right- it’s not just polite to say what I said.

    I’m done with being polite.

    • rufusmcbufus
      June 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Pheh….our species isn’t worth it.
      -rufus

    • June 23, 2012 at 5:27 am

      There is one other outcome that I am still hoping for (assuming we come to our senses on distribution of wealth). As human societies become wealthier, they trend towards zero population growth. We don’t know exactly why but the evidence is pretty good.

      So what is needed is for the entire world to become as wealthy as Western Europe before we overheat the planet.

      It’s hard for me to place odds on the three outcomes. Oddly enough, I think nuclear weapons make my get-wealthy path more likely — we can’t just tell China/India that they have to starve.

  14. June 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Holy crap, is this all intended to be satire? No mention of over-population being the single biggest factor in climate change, ocean acidification, mass species extinction, resource wars, massive human suffering, on and on? Did I wander into a fundamentalist climate-change-denier’s blog by mistake?

    DO THE MATH. Three children from two people who were “following their instincts” means EXPONENTIAL GROWTH. Mathbabe — hello??

    I am shocked at the self-absorption here among those who are presumably well-educated and thoughtful people.

    The headline can be revised: “Weird apes foul planet by following their instincts!”

    Please do not have kids.

    • Yulek
      June 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm

      To late for that.

      We as a species are far behind the point of no return on our population growth and resulting environment destruction. And that destruction, coupled with consuming all available energy resources will let us witness one of the biggest die offs in the history of our species. And somehow I am not confident, that we will learn from that experience.

  15. ru0101
    June 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    What differentiates humans from other animals is that our behavior is not determined only by our instincts. Offspring are not a person’s only legacy, ie Mother Teresa, Beethoven, etc. Children are such a joy see http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein?c=home Parents, recognize anyone? No, yours are all little angels. Part of the instink I guess.

  16. June 25, 2012 at 5:51 am

    I really enjoyed reading this, i agree with you on many of the points you have mentioned. I have had issues sharing this view with others, Im’ glad I’m not alone ;)

  17. Andy C
    June 25, 2012 at 6:46 am

    This is really a reply to the NYT article – once again reading a professional philosopher I am left wondering “how the hell can she have overlooked *that*”. I assume we agree that the instantaneous destruction of all human life is a bad thing, even though the level of “suffering” would be zero (instant death leaves no time to suffer). If we agree this, we do agree that human life has some kind of value apart from the ability to suffer. It is possible then that only some human lives are valuable, or some are more valuable than others, but unless these are true to a very strong degree, creating children is creating value – i.e. doing something good.

    I’m also tired of the negligible argument that we should limit population growth to “save the planet”. Save the planet for whom? Who is going to save the planet if all the Math PhDs have only 2 kids, and the philosophers have none? If you really think you contribute less to the world than the $5,000 of carbon emissions you produce in a year, and you expect a future child to contribute less than the average child born, I could consider your arguments – but I would wonder how you are able to articulate them. If not, what the hell are you talking about?

  18. Dan L
    June 25, 2012 at 10:03 am

    It’s interesting how this thread organically lead to the question: What is the purpose of life? No point in arguing over that one.

  19. Keith
    June 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    The planet will survive us. Life on the planet, maybe not.

  20. patrick
    June 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    my dad taught me hard work and character. my mom instilled in me a set of manners, grace, conviction and also how to treat a woman. my parents prioritized schoolwork, grades, volunteering and athletics. (i prioritized making money – our goals aligned when my parents offered me money for good grades). my dad forced me to study for my SATs and then in conjunction with the academic scholarship I was awarded with (much to their credit because I surrounded myself with average academically-minded students in HS), gave me the opportunity to attend a 4-year, private college university. at the end of my 4 years there, having partied as hard as i could while balancing school, my performance, work ethic and character apparently were high enough to achieve a job at one of the most prestigious of M&A firms.

    my parents were not perfect and i rebelled hard against their overly restrictive rules. i also was given a set of genes that are not perfect. but i owe my life to my parents and while i went through all of the issues of a young adult growing up in a party-obsessed society, i have moved back to CT from CA and currently work in NYC across the street from my Father. We try to get lunch once per week and even just meet each other on either block to take a quick walk after a good or bad event or just because.

    my dad recently told me he came upon a moment of “satori”: He used to feel a sense of value when I, or either of my two sisters, would come to him for help with something… and as we stopped doing that, he started to lose his sense of self-value as he felt himself providing no value as a father. at some point he then came to the realization that maybe the reason we stopped needing his help was because he had been a good father and had taught us how to deal with our issues.

    I am aware that I was given a set of parents that gave me the background and opportunity that most do not have. I am grateful and no longer take this for granted. Despite my desire to not judge others, I would have to agree that for those individuals deciding to have children to receive extra money in form of government assistance is really a selfish decision and only serves to maintain/increase poverty, crime and the generational cycles of kids with kids. This is not a cost to the parents, this is at a cost to society.

    it comes down to values – every person is different and some people are happy to not have children while for some, that is the ultimate source of happiness. happiness is an emotion and is therefore irrational. either way one decides, you are making a decision based on an “irrational reason” and unique set of values. emotions make us human. rationality helps make good decisions. ultimately, i will never be smart enough to say where one should be on this spectrum…

  21. Bobito
    July 10, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Having kids is entirely rational from an economic standpoint if one’s retirement plan is bad or nonexistent, and one cannot count on some sort of social security system to take care of one’s well being when one is old. This is why in traditional, poor societies, it is standard to have lots of children, and to teach them that respect for their elders is the fundamental principle in life.

  22. Leila Schneps
    July 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve often wondered why on earth people have this powerful inexplicable need for kids, and have finally concluded that we have them mainly for the hugs. When my daughters hit teenage, I thought I would rub my hands together and say to myself: “There, the task is nearly done and I’ve still got loads of fun years in front of me to do whatever I want!” Instead of which, I went and had two more kids. Why? It’s definitely for the hugs and cuddles. I don’t seem to be able to live without them. I’m figuring that when this pair hits teenage, I can start being a grandma, so there shouldn’t be any more hugless spaces.

  23. July 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Having children is unethical.

    For the academically inclined, Prof. David Benatar, author of “Better Never to Have Been”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7a04MAX2Cg

    For a more informal take on things, “Inmendham”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vzrpTE4geE and the last 90sec https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHFYSceC-Go

  24. mathmama
    July 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I would say, have children if you really want them. If you identify “want” with “instinct”, then so be it–I do not. Having one now (and thinking hard about another) allows me to painfully contemplate how much smaller my life has gotten. =) And yet my kid makes me happy in a way that few things did before. =) So there.

    (I wouldn’t have three, unless by accident (e.g., twins on the second try). Overpopulation concerns aside (and I have those, too), I am already past my prime breeding years, and would actually like to have a little “life” left after he/they leave for college… )

    But yeah, I’ve also been telling all my friends who are toying with, or contemplating the issue, not to have kids unless they really want them–it’s so much work, so many privations, that it’s just not worth it to have them any other way. And the chance of screwing them up (along with many other relationships in your life), if you’re not sure you want them, is SO much bigger. So I identify with the post. Thanks!

  25. Jorgensen
    October 27, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Why bring more children into an already overpopulated world, rather than loving and caring for one that is already here? There are so many children in need of a good home.

  1. June 22, 2012 at 2:57 am
  2. May 11, 2013 at 7:08 am
  3. July 20, 2013 at 9:33 am
  4. January 11, 2014 at 7:42 am
Comments are closed.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 977 other followers

%d bloggers like this: